Sunday, July 2, 2017

Czechia: Prague, Cesky Krumlov & a bone-chilling church

The last leg of our great European road trip took us to the Czech Republic (shortened to Czechia - read all the fuss about the new moniker HERE) - a first visit for all of us! Our ancestors from my maternal grandfather, Poppo (Don Luksa), hail from this region: his grandmother from north of Prague in the region called Bohemia, and his grandfather from the southeast in a region called Moravia.
 Our music video of the Czech Republic and Austria is HERE.

We drove north from Salzburg and stopped first in this little gem, Cesky Krumlov, in the hopes of rafting down the river that encircles the medieval city. Unfortunately the raft rentals were closed due to impending rain (drats!), so instead we saw most of this snug, colorful, red-tiled city on foot.



 The kids were dancing for the music video... seriously cute.
 We all stopped for lunch at this spot tucked into the castle gate. The owner was a gruff man who chased many other people away, but invited us to sit. I'm not sure if it was because Americans have notoriously big appetites (ha!), or for some other reason beyond my comprehension. I was a bit miffed at his behavior despite his hospitality toward us, and set off to tour the castle while Mark enjoyed two very large Czech beers at about fifty cents each!


A map of the castle.
Gryffy came along.

I adore the castle tower, the icon of this town.


Behind this gate is a moat with a bear!
After Mark finished off his cherry pilsner, we continued on down the cobbled lanes.




 I loved watching the rafters. What a fun way to see charming Cesky! Next time then...


 And along the main bridge stood an iron crucifix, similar to the ones on the roadsides everywhere in Alsace, France.





We bade farewell to this fine town, and ventured onward toward Prague, the capital of Czechia. Driving was intense (avoiding trams and pedestrians - yowzers!) and parking was a beast. But we finally settled into the hotel - there's Mark dragging the bags.
 We had a beautiful double room suite on the top floor with an adjoining sitting area in the Hotel Waldstein, located just beneath the castle and a short walk to Charles Bridge.
 The kids' room.
And the ceiling in our room, decorated with a flourish of flowers.
We ate, took a short walk, and settled in for the night.




 The next morning we were up bright and early to be the first ones in line at the castle.


 "The early bird gets the worm" according to the old adage, and it really paid off! We had about ten minutes to ourselves inside St. Vitus Cathedral on the castle grounds before the hordes of tour groups swarmed in.
 This was my favorite stained glass window, telling the story of the Czech people. It was designed by Czechia's favorite artist, Mucha. For a few blessed minutes, we had it to ourselves to gaze upon.
 More of St. Vitus Cathedral...


I climbed the spiral steps of the bell tower, and both the climb and the views stole my breath away!

Charles Bridge in the distance.




 Another lovely viewpoint nearby.


We toured more of the castle grounds...

 The kids stood by their favorite suits of armor.
 They were intrigued by the macabre torture museum.

 Then they tucked inside a cafe for hot chocolates while I ambled along the Golden Lane, peeking inside little homes and shops preserved from bygone days.
 This was the home of a famous fortuneteller.
Imagine the maze of trams attached to these wires (and finagling a car around them)!
 Gryffy found a griffin.
 We walked along a bridge with views of Charles Bridge into the Jewish Quarter.

 We walked through several synagogues, this one displaying tens of thousands of names of Jews from Prague who died in the Holocaust. And the picture to the right shows the kids looking at artwork created by Jewish children their age who were sent to concentration camps.
 An alarm was going off in a test while we toured the Jewish graveyard, which is why Lorelei (always noise-sensitive) is covering her ears.
Look at all those higgledy-piggledy gravestones, with bodies packed ten persons deep.
 We walked to the Old Town for lunch...

... and caught the not-so-thrilling hourly performance of the famous Astronomic Clock.



I was intrigued by this grim statue.
 Midday, we hiked back to our car...

... and braved heavy traffic and roadwork to get to this can't-miss spot, Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora.
Legend holds that a blind monk assembled these bones from over 40,000 bodies (many plague victims), and for his devotion, was awarded his sight.


Nothing like death staring us in the face!
But these kids thought this was the coolest part of Czechia, and a great way to nearly end our trip... only one day left!

No comments:

Post a Comment